When I was just a young hippie at Jackson Central-Merry High School in Jackson, TN, I had a class called Sociology. Basically it was about world geography and the study of different cultures. The teacher often included slide shows of countries he had visited in his travels. One of those was on India, and the thing he remarked on most was how amazing the food was. I’ve never forgotten that particular class, and especially his lively and enthusiastic descriptions of Indian food.
Murfreesboro has been somewhat sparse in its offerings of Indian fare over the decades. The Clay Pit and Tandoor had been my only experiences to date. The Missus had the good fortune to try lunch at Royal Indian Cuisine located at 206 N Thompson Ln Murfreesboro, TN one day, so it was fated that I would eventually end up eating there. So I did, and the rest of the story is fit for Bollywood. Grab a seat, and let’s roll that footage!
Royal Indian Cuisine is in a strip mall on the end of Thompson lane closer to Old Fort Pkwy, in an older, less glitzy part of that road. The sign for Royal Indian dominates the other business mentions on the marquee.
The outside of the building doesn’t grab your attention right away, and the whole building has a weathered and worn look. Parking is par for the course for a strip mal, sharing spaces with 2-3 other businesses. The windows are tinted dark, which doesn’t offer a peek at what’s inside, but does keep the sun from being too brutal.
Royal Indian occupies a building that used to house a Subway sandwich shop. It’s very apparent that it was indeed a Subway. Some of the same decor, seating, and wallpaper still reflects that. They really haven’t gone out of their way to make the place their own from that standpoint. Cultural decor sits in spots and adds to the ambiance, but it needs a touch more. The lighting and music were pleasant, and the staff very polite and friendly.
We were the only ones in there (we were having an early dinner), so we had the full attention of the staff. Simply some of the friendliest service I’ve had in a while. All our questions were answered with simple, clear explanations and even some suggestions on combinations of items that proved to be very tasty were given. Our food came out promptly, and we could tell it was made hot and fresh. We ordered entrees from a pretty extensive menu at our table, but there is a buffett during lunch
Royal has a very diversified menu, with plenty of choice and style.There is a vegetarian/vegan menu, and a more “meaty” one.They even have an Indo-Chinese section, whose flavors originate in the Chinese settlement of Kolata in India. Check out their full menu here.
Since this was out first trip, we decided to go with the Assorted Appetizer as well, to get a good sampling of several different tastes. The dish consisted of samosa, potato bonda, idly, cutlet and veg pakora. It was served with mint and tamarind chutney for dipping.
I gotta tell you guys, everything was delicious and the portions were huge.About halfway thru the appetizer I could see that look in the eyes of The Missus that says, “I’m going to be carrying some of my meal home.” In particular, I liked the potato bonda and the chick pea batter on the pakoras was different and a great texture.
To go with our entrees, we ordered naan bread. The Spicy Chili Garlic Naan was a hit with me, though it was a bit spicy for The Missus.Our server made the suggestion to try it with the chutney, and the combination of spicy, sweet, and garlic was crazy good.
For my entree, I went with an old favorite of mine from other establishments, Chilli Chicken. I wanted to compare Royal’s to others I have tasted. I was not disappointed. Our server worked with me to find a heat level that was right in that spot between HOT and FLAVORFUL. The rice was brought out in a separate bowl to be shared, and the entree came in its own dish. The dishes were metal, and decorative. While at a glance they looked small, there is a deceptively large amount of food packed in them. The flavor profile was different than other places I have had this dish, and seemed to be a bit more savory.
The Misssus ordered the Paneer Tikka Masala, a dish consisting of marinated paneer cubes cooked with a pretty rich sauce made with yogurt, onions, tomatoes, cashews, almonds and spices. “Simply divine” is how she described it to me, and a great vegetarian choice. It has a rich, but not overpowering taste and the texture of the paneer was wonderful without a gelatinous feel to it according to the resident artist of Hippie Haven Studios.
We were treated to a dessert sampling, a treat known as Gulab Jamun. Its sort of an “Indian donut” made with rose water and cardamom powder. The result is a sweet fried dumpling that is the perfect palate cleanser for the end of a savory meal.
As I mentioned above, Royal is in a pretty old Subway building. Its got a very worn sort of look and a little on the drab side. However, this doesn’t mean it isn’t clean. The area around the buffet line was clean and shiny, no food on the floors, the booth was clean and in good repair. I give Royal high marks for making the best out of an old, well used building.
Royal Indian Cuisine’s food, service and cleanliness game is STRONG. I give them very high marks for those items. Just a bit more effort into the overall atmosphere would make this place a game changer for date night. The hallway to the restroom doubles as a storage area, and those sights almost always break the mood for me. A bit more cultural decor would do wonders to dispel the notion that you are inside a Subway shop. These points don’t detract negatively for me, but they don’t enhance my score either. Overall, this is a great business with wonderful food that deserves your patronage.
So that’s it for this review. Look below for my rating, and see where Royal Indian Cuisine stands. One of the best features of my work is YOU! Your feedback and comments drive me to make things better every time. There’s a place to leave comments below, and I would love to see them there. In order to prevent spam, I have all comments set to “approve”. I’ve already had to delete a lot of marketing spam.Please post your comments, and I will respond to them and make sure they post.
In the meantime, Make lunch, not war!!! Peace out!!!